At a time when Assam's film industry is celebrating its platinum jubilee, the only print of the ninth Assamese feature film, Runumi, produced and directed by writer and Sattriya dance exponent, the late Suresh Chandra Goswami, has been returned to his family after nearly four decades.
The print of the film, released in 1952, has been returned by Amiya Borthakur of Bhir Gaon of Biswanath Chariali, whose father and Goswami's brother-in-law Lakshminath Borthakur took it for screening in some tea gardens in the area. Since then, it had been lying in a tin trunk box in Mr. Borthakur's residence.
The 13 reels, still in the original cans, have been brought to the Guwahati residence of Mr. Goswami's daughter Dolly Borpujari.
The filmmaker's grandson, film critic Utpal Borpujari, is already in touch with people in Mumbai for cleaning the print and transferring it to other formats, and also plans to contact the National Film Archives of India in Pune for its scientific restoration and preservation.
Preliminary examination indicates that a significant part of the film could still be intact, though the actual condition of the print will be known only after it is checked by experts.
Based on Mr. Goswami's adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's play ‘The Warriors at Helgeland,' Runumi's story was set in Assam and Nagaland (then the Naga hills of Assam).
“I was only eight years old when the film was released. I still remember that the film evoked good response in upper Assam. However, the State government suddenly banned it. We still do not know why. Even my father was in the dark about the reason, as he had written somewhere that the film was banned ‘due to unknown reasons.'
“The State government should let the people of Assam know why it was banned. My father was left bankrupt because of the ban,” Ms. Borpujari told TheHindu.
“After restoration, Runumi can be screened by removing the objectionable part, if there is really any, so that the present generation cinemagoers can learn about our cinematic heritage while celebrating the platinum jubilee of Assam's film industry,” she said.